A North Dakota couple had a rude awaking this past weekend. A Mandan man and woman were arrested after their young child was discovered outside in the cold and they were then "caught" with drug paraphernalia. While this certainly makes the parents look bad, should they be faced with charges?

According to The Bismarck Tribune, a four-year-old boy was found outside, shaking and without shoes, about three-tenths of a mile from his home, in 19-degree weather, at around 7:45 on Saturday (January 16) morning. Then, it is reported that drug paraphernalia was discovered at the child's house. Now, the child's parents - 26-year-old Kassandra Denault and 42-year-old Peter Denault  - have charges against them for child endangerment and drug paraphernalia. Get the full story from The Bismarck Tribune here.

While it is important to make sure the child is safe and in a loving, happy home, is it fair that the Denaults are being charged in this particular instance? If this is truly all that transpired, do they really deserve such consequences? Parents make mistakes, and this is mild compared to actual crimes against children - even in North Dakota.

Let's break it down:

  • A CHILD GOT OUT OF HIS HOUSE - Four-year-olds are fully capable of making the decision to go anywhere they want. They get curious, open stuff, wander, etc. People lose their children and do not end up arrested. It's scary, but it happens to even "the best" parents.
  • IT WAS AN EARLY WEEKEND MORNING - Though we don't know what the Denaults were up to when their child escaped, they could have been sleeping or just in another room. I don't know anyone who has eyes on their children 24/7-365. He clearly didn't get that far before he was helped. Three-tenths of a mile is nothing.
  • THERE WAS PARAPHERNALIA - The type was not specified. But you can LEGALLY buy pipes, bongs, etc. (AKA "PARAPHERNALIA") right here in Bismarck and Mandan. They could have LEGALLY obtained the paraphernalia and smoked marijuana or CBD or another legal substance when their child wasn't around - we don't know. There were no drugs present, so what's the concern (and secrecy) with an unused piece?

I am not saying that the child is living in a "safe" situation - we can never really know what goes on "behind closed doors." In fact, maybe he really did need help! I am just saying that the particular events that happened do not make the Denaults monsters or bad parents.

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